Is South Africa ready for the future of human germline genome editing? Comparing South African law and recent proposals for global governance

T Kamwendo, B Shozi


Over the past few years, developments in the science of precise editing of human genomes using CRISPR-Cas9 have led many countries that lack specific laws in this area, such as South Africa (SA), to contemplate legal reform. Thaldar et al. recently published five principles to guide legal reform in SA on heritable genome editing. In a similar vein, concerns about the global impact of human germline genome editing have led to calls for a global regulatory mechanism. This is what the World Health Organization has tried to achieve with the recently published ‘Draft governance framework for human genome editing’. In this article, we compare the policies proposed by the draft framework to the current SA legal position, as well as the five guiding principles. The article concludes that SA law is in need of reform in order to meet the global standards that the draft framework seems to be moving towards.

Authors' affiliations

T Kamwendo, Private Law Department, Faculty of Law, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

B Shozi, Institute for Practical Ethics, Division of Arts and Humanities, University of California, San Diego, USA School of Law, College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2021;14(3):97. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.2021.v14i3.761

Article History

Date submitted: 2022-01-28
Date published: 2022-01-28

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